The Kealakekua Region: Salubrious core, political centre


  • Robert J. Hommon University of Otago


Hawai‘i, Polynesia, primary state


Archaeological, ethnohistoric, and oral traditional resources pertaining to the region around Kealakekua Bay on the Kona coast of Hawai‘i Island offer unsurpassed perspectives on ancient Hawaiian society and the nature and emergence of the Hawaiian primary states. Supported by abundant marine resources and highly productive agricultural lands of the vast rain-fed Kona Field System, the region’s communities, probably among those that founded the 2,000 km2 Kona District, became a centre of the island’s peripatetic royal court and of the annual four-month Makahiki festival. Much that we know of this court, this festival, the residents of Kealakekua Region, and the larger Hawaiian world at the moment of contact with the non-Polynesian world comes from dozens of graphic depictions and written eyewitness accounts of the only sustained Hawaiian sojourn of Captain Cook’s last expedition (1779). These resources are augmented by decades of subsequent accounts of Hawaiian scholars, residents, and visitors. Analyses of archaeological evidence of the eighteenth century intensification of the Kona Field System and traditional histories evincing the coeval emergence of the Hawai‘i Island primary state offer an opportunity to test hypotheses linking the two processes.




How to Cite

Hommon, R. J. (2014) “The Kealakekua Region: Salubrious core, political centre”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 5(2), pp. 40–50. Available at: (Accessed: 22 June 2024).